Need community feedback on new role system for PC-BSD

Hey everyone! We are considering a new way to install a more
customized PC-BSD experience called “Roles”. Roles would be a
installation experience for PC-BSD that would allow more flexibility
and a more focused package installation based on what you need or want
for your role. If you are a web developer maybe you need an IDE or
packages specifically focused on that. If you are wanting the best
desktop workstation experience maybe you would get an installation
with libreoffice and some other productivity apps.

We hope to also be able to bring these different roles to you in the
form of pre-made virtualbox / vmware images that are ready to be
rolled out. This would hopefully save you a little bit of time as
they’d be significantly smaller by not including a bunch of
unnecessary packages for your role. You would also be able to select
during a normal PC-BSD DVD / USB installation whether or not you want
to use a pre-defined role to setup your system.

We need your help and input to define what roles are important to you
as users and what packages you would suggest that they include. (I.E.
if you are installing a
{developer/web-designer/network-admin/consumer} workstation, what
would be the custom set of packages you need? You can contribute to
the discussion by responding on the forums, blog, or mailing lists.

Forum link:

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Written by Josh Smith. Posted in 10.1, new features, Uncategorized

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Comments (32)

  • Kirk Pearson
    November 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm |

    I use PC-BSD for my Ham Radio station. That role is most important to me personally. Thanks for all the hard work that makes PC-BSD so great!

    • November 10, 2014 at 5:26 pm |

      Very cool role! While I use PC-BSD for work, I’d like to use it ham radio too. I’m AF7EC. 73 Kirk πŸ™‚

      To answer the question posed in the blog post, I do remote support and Xorg, Qt and Gtk2 development as well as maintaining legacy VB6 apps using Windows on VirtualBox.

      The packages I absolutely must have for my remote support role are:
      * gtk-vnc (built to support py27-gtk2, not gtk3)
      * vpnc (for vpn’ing to customer sites)
      * py27-gtk
      * tightvnc (for reverse vnc connections)
      * freerdp (for infrequent RDP connections)
      * pidgin (for customer communication)

      For my developer role:
      * VirtualBox (for Windows development/testing)
      * Qt 4 or 5
      * Qt Creator
      * Qt QMake
      * Qt Config
      * Gcc or Clang
      * GDB
      * Geany

      While I don’t have all the equipment I need for amateur radio yet, I know I’d love to see:
      * CuteCW
      * Digital modes encoder/decoder

      Give me a shout if you need any clarification on these roles.

      Thanks y’all! πŸ˜€

      • Kirk
        November 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm |

        KI7YY here. Good to see you here Will! 73

    • William R Blankley
      November 15, 2014 at 9:08 am |

      From G8CMK, England.
      lets hope you find lots of common ground. years ago i used a Sharp MZ731 with Sharp S BASIC and a compiler written by an unknown genius to work out and simulate ladder filters. i liked interpreted basic and the cheat of compiling it. there is something called X11 BASIC that i have not tried that says it interprets and compiles, hopefully it uses the proper 64 bits of math the Xeon CPU utilizes.
      for me firefox, libreoffice and some number-crunching ability. then if someone could “liberate” an NEC4 with a front end i could understand one could play the antenna simulation “game”.

      some of you experts might find some decent SDR software and perhaps an audio spectrum analyzer. i wonder what i would enjoy that i can’t even think of?
      73 William.

      • William R Blankley
        November 15, 2014 at 6:25 pm |

        a postscript….

        being a casual user i have been bitten by the wine pib. the disk from bsd mall does not have wine and firefox. at the second attempt firefox went in ok but wine and basic 256 fail when downloaded from the app cafe. so, it looks like a good idea to group things together on a disk. by the way, my broadband line is horrid, comes from an outfit called “talktalk”.

  • John
    November 10, 2014 at 7:15 pm |

    When I copy the forum link I just get an error page. I like the idea but it would be nice to to be able to decide what you want to install with say KDE. I know at one time I did not like the education part installed and one Linux version I tried I was able to deselect this. This way I got KDE but did not get items I did not want. If we could do this then I am all for it.

  • Erkan
    November 10, 2014 at 11:08 pm |

    Hi there,

    I use PCBSD as a home computer for casual surfing/some office apps. But an idea to bring customized installation packs is great, but woulde prefer different isos, one packing only base system+lumina desktop, another one with just kde+base pcbsd system and another iso with all available desktop environments.

  • Dwight
    November 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm |

    I would like Desktop/Workstation image with LibreOffice, Google Chrome web-browser, MATE desktop, GIMP & Shotwell Photo manager

  • Duarte
    November 11, 2014 at 5:27 am |

    Wouldn’t it be a better idea to let the user, when installing a fresh PC-BSD, be given the choice to pick the packages he/she needs? That would make each install our own “role”.
    That means having only the strict necessary installed by force, and have a 2-3 steps more in the installer to pick recommended software or to search for software we might need.
    Just a thought really.

  • Suvro
    November 11, 2014 at 6:44 am |

    I dunno whether anyone else does it this way, but I already implement roles in my laptop by having different user accounts, even though they are all mine.

    In my primary one, I do my personal work – any online banking, checking my TWC, Verizon & Vonage account, my credit cards, electricity and so on. I also use that account for the emails that I exchange with my family.

    In another account, called jobs, I maintain all my resumes, have all my job email accounts there, and follow job sites, like LinkedIn, TheLadders, Monster, et al. Any job related thing needs to be done, I go there.

    I then have a few more accounts, mainly for the purposes of having different virtual identities and participating in different blogs and websites. Due to the varied nature of these, I have more than one. I also play FreeCiv (non-networked) in a couple of them.

    Is this the sort of thing the ‘roles’ feature is supposed to achieve? If yes, maybe helpful, although to be honest, I have it _now_!

    • Suvro
      November 11, 2014 at 6:47 am |

      One more thing – I log into each of the above using different DEs. My personal one, I use Lumina. For the jobs one, I use KDE. For the others, I use LXDE and GNOME.

  • tirp
    November 11, 2014 at 9:54 am |

    PC-BSD has many years like project, and of system it does not have anything. Because there is very heavy the system?, which needs to install 52 disc GB.

    PC-BSD is only for architecture of 64 bits. When in the world, the 32-bits architecture is 80%.

  • November 11, 2014 at 10:33 am |

    Role based Installation (and Logon) is a interesting idea, may help the new users to try installation with less time. And support dedicated user to continue with strategic time investment.

    Here is my suggestion, you can decide based on what majority user and experts want:

    + Desk Top / Work Station User :
    ++++ GNOME / KDE / XFCE / LXDE / Lumnia (Default )
    ++++ Libre Office (or similar)
    ++++ GIMP, WebCam, VideoLAN
    ++++ Productivity Tool : Chats (Yahoo, SkyPE), DropBox
    ++++ Music Tool

    + Web Developer Version :
    ++++ Desktop + plus
    ++++ Ruby, PHP, python, JS (NodeJS & Yoman)
    ++++ VM /Any edit
    ++++ Mongo or Any other NOSQL
    ++++ PostgreSQL, Maria DB, sqlite
    ++++ any other…

    + Core Developer Version :
    ++++ Desktop + Web Developer + plus
    ++++ Base Tools (as suggested by Will B above)
    ++++ Xcode, Anjuta, Eclipse (JDK 8), Spring
    ++++ Object Pascal (Lazarus / CodeTyphon)

    For Network / Administration : Experts can comment.

    But whatever you do, please make it “fast” to install and “fast to boot”, and “fast to respond”



  • Ken
    November 11, 2014 at 11:47 am |


    The key, seemingly fully unhandled issue with any system is Security, especially when on the Internet.

    An effective security package would be selected by most people, I suspect.

    The above break-downs listed by other people seem similar to what I would choose.

    Looking at an application based approach, there would be ;

    1) CAD pack = mechanical, electronic, etc etc

    2) Art Pack for Illustrators, Designers & Students

    3) Studio pack for Audio production.

    4) Studio Pack for Video Production.

    5) Development pack to produce “Apps”

    (Would have optional programs like FPC, Python-3, Dr. Racket, Haskell, Perl, Ruby etc etc etc etc etc)

    6) Server Pack.

    7) Telephony / Router Pack.

    8) Scientific Pack

    9) Biz management Pack (Management of things & People) (using databases etc etc ??).

    10) Sales & Marketing Pack

    11) Office Pack

    12) Art Pack for Illustrators, Designers & Students

    13) Security Pack (mentioned above)

    14) Web surfer pack.

    15) System Management Pack (Eg clearing out old files etc, adding printers etc etc. Already available as “Control Panel”, perhaps).


    All of these must work together & side-by-side, if & where loaded.


    Thanks !

    * *

  • November 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm |

    I use PC-BSD as a home computer for surfing, mail, some office apps, some multimedia and to edit my website.

    I was used to Windows XP which I scaled down with nLite to get rid of for me as many unnecessary functions as possible.

    When I first installed PC-BSD I tried to select only what I needed and no more. So I use KDE desktop (I tried LXDE and Mate but for me KDE seems to works best) and unchecked some of the app boxes.
    Installed programs from AppCafe are only Thunderbird, Firefox, LibreOffice, FileZilla, VLC-Player (don’t know if that’s the best one, maybe I’ll go for UM-Player instead) and Skype (hope it will work soon).

    Role install sounds good if that would help to reduce the programs in the menu which I just use a fraction of, like tools for image and PDF viewing, some image editing, calculator, screensaver (a sleep mode would be great if I could make a wish πŸ˜‰ ) etc.

    At the moment I just try to find a way to install a website editor. I was able to get KompoZer, but I don’t like it so now I’m trying MS Office FrontPage with Wine. No luck with the FrontPage XP version, so I’ll try with FrontPage 2003 if I just can find one out there.

    O yeah, I have the system set to Swedish language, and it works excellent, but for some reason the keyboard setting sometimes sets it back to default after the computer has been turned off. No big deal, but I can’t have it set at auto in-log since it won’t accept some of my keyboard characters if I don’t first check it/set it right.

  • Mark
    November 12, 2014 at 3:51 am |

    I’d love to be able to put together an iso before download, similar to what porteus offers, but with more choices. As for my own needs, I need LibreOffice, Thunderbird and Firefox first and foremost.

  • usling
    November 12, 2014 at 1:55 pm |

    I would like a laptop role with better out of the box functionality, or more comprehensive documentation. (some guide on how to get stuff working)

  • Tino
    November 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm |

    I would like something like molecule of Sabayon Linux where you can create your own custom live dvd and you can install it from there, and it is very easy to add packages.

  • Ragansi
    November 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm |

    By ‘roles’, are you trying to emulate the Fedora Spins? Or are you talking about specific package sets within the installer?

    Perhaps using spins as a measure of what seems to be popular would be a good data point to coincide with community feedback?

    As far as a role. How about a ‘minimal desktop’. Something that has no more than is absolutely required for a desktop to function.

    I don’t necessarily mean minimal as in lightweight. It could be KDE, but only what KDE requires to function. Same for MATE, GNOME etc. Lumina would probably be an excellent DE for this.

    Perhaps this could be used for a more programmatic approach to getting feedback.

    Create a tool that will allow the users to generate a package report, that gets sent back to you guys for analyzing. Perhaps add a field to the tool that lets us specify what we use the system for?

    Thanks for all the great work guys.

  • Jeff
    November 13, 2014 at 12:58 am |

    The forum link is a 404.

    I think this could be a great way to create “test-needed” packages.

    Someone who has time to test, but does not know what needs testing could install a certain package with notes on what to test and then give feedback.

  • Spencer
    November 13, 2014 at 10:13 am |

    I have used PC-BSD to check out what FreeBSD has to offer for desktops. Right now, FreeBSD does servers very well but PC-BSD is trying to change that.

    I genuinely believe the BSD license is superior to GPLv3. I also love the idea of lumina, the BSD DE.

    I would like to be able to see an example of a pure BSD licensed software desktop with software. I don’t even know if that is possible. It would just be interesting to see the tangible holes and see if developers would help fill them.

  • Jack
    November 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm |

    How about the most demanding, the most challenging, the most powerful, the most state-of-the-art rolle, that noone so far even dare to mention:
    PC-BSD for G A M I N G !
    With preinstalled wine and steam, and whatever neccessary libs and files it takes for such system not only for win games but also for native linux games? (yes, I know PC-BSD is not linux)

  • Yuvaraj Thiagarajan
    November 14, 2014 at 2:16 am |

    As people have different preferences for IDE, programming languages or frameworks, I feel the best way is to give the user the option to choose from a list of IDEs, programming languages, frameworks and other development tools during installation. As we are targeting intermediate and advanced users for ‘software development’ roles, it should be fine to not have defaults and let the user pick the applications to install at the time of installation. Alternatively, we can have a poll for each application type specific to the role, and let the application with highest number of votes be selected as the default application that gets installed automatically when that role is selected during OS installation.

    • webugz
      November 16, 2014 at 10:52 am |

      I second that! There is absolutely no single role that fits all needs or preference.

  • Stan
    November 15, 2014 at 12:31 am |

    Why not just learn to use the Package manager?

  • root
    November 15, 2014 at 6:27 am |

    Maybe you could remove the broken pulse audio dependency found in your KDE spin, or use some other method to fix no audio device for intel codec support.

  • Georgi
    November 15, 2014 at 7:17 pm |

    I would like to have a Desktop/Worstation ISO which includes things like Libre Office, GIMP, Firefox, standart apps you know. πŸ™‚

  • Oskar
    November 16, 2014 at 1:34 pm |

    Everyone has a different idea of what packages should go in a role, but if the goal is to stamp out many similar machines, combining the existing unattended configuration file creator with a more detailed package selector might be good. It would make a solid base for deploying business desktops.

  • […] is seeking feedback on the new ‘Roles’ experience that they plan to use in future PC-BSD releases.Β  This will provide a more flexible and focused […]

  • Bryan
    November 19, 2014 at 3:26 am |

    If you decide to do this could you make it so multiple boxes could be checked. e.g. I might do SDR and development and need office so I might check all three.

  • Josh Smith
    November 19, 2014 at 5:29 am |

    If you are subscribed to this thread make sure to check out our new post / video with more information and explaining our ideas behind the role system.

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